There’s no place like home, or so the saying goes. But as the prancing horses get set to roll out onto the legendary Monza track, there is little optimism from the Tifosi, with the expectation that that home sweet home will leave nothing but a sour taste in the mouth.
Last weekend Ferrari managed a 13th/14th place finish after qualifying in the same position, no, you didn’t miss-read that. The track where last season they took the race win and a 4th position after qualifying one/two, there is no doubt that the 2020 Belgium Grand Prix highlighted more than any other track so far this seasons the shortcomings of the team. Whilst last years (almost certainly illegal) engine seems to be the route cause of the lack of pace and performance for the Italian Giants, the fact they were beaten by Ferrari powered Alfa Romeo at the weekend, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing ahead of both Ferrari drivers must be cause for even more concern at Maranello.
Team Principle Mattia Binotto summed up the feeling at Ferrari as “disappointed and angry” but had little to add in terms of explanation of why the team was running so slow. With Monza coming up this weekend; another track where success relies on an effective and pacey power unit, the Ferrari fan’s are set for another challenging weekend. The promise of upgrades may offer some hope for fans of the Red Car’s but after watching them battle and ultimately lose out to a customer team the questioning and finger-pointing is reaching becoming almost unbearable for the team principle.
To add more fuel to the fire, the weekend’s result and Sunday’s pace has done little to re-establish the fragile relationship with four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Once more the German set to questioning and even trying to dictate strategy to his race engineer with optimal pit strategy being debated over the radio with the German. In the end, it seemed whatever they were to commit to Sunday would ultimately not produce anything close to a points finish. With Renault’s aero and downforce package combining nicely for a four/five finish for the French team and Monza being a track Daniel Ricciardo proved himself at in the Renault last season, it seems there are no longer any mid-field teams who are unable to take on the Ferrari power.
Sebastian himself has already suggested that the next two weeks will do little to bolster the position of the team, with an expectation that the team will fall further behind the leading pack rather than close the gap. Binotto agreed, warning that despite an understanding the ‘home’ races will bring additional pressure, there is no quick fix in this sport:
“The entire team is responsible, myself as team principal as first,” he said. “Am I the right man or not [to lead the team]? Not [for] myself to answer. How long it will take? I think if you look back in all the winning cycles that have been set, it’s always many years. There are no silver bullets in F1, patience and stability is required.”
With Renault just two points behind Ferrari heading into the first of three Italian Grand Prix of 2020, there is a real possibility that come Sunday evening the team will find themselves 6th place in the constructors, and if Pierre Gasly and AlphaTauri’s form can continue might it be that Ferrari are not even Italy’s numero uno racing team come Sochi?
The next two race weekends in Monza and Mugello may be two of the worst Ferrari will experience all season; but with all the other problems they are facing this year, a terrible two races at home could just as easily be the tip of the iceberg of further troubles ahead…